A.D.V. American Vacation Chapter 3

All Ranma characters are property of Rumiko Takahashi, first published by Shogakugan in Japan and brought over to North America by Viz Communications. Sailor Moon was created by Naoko Taeuchi.
 

                    A Different Viewpoint:  American Vacation, pt 3

    "Adopted?"  Akane asked incredulously.  "My older sister Kasumi has been... adopted?"  She shook her head.  "No, no, that can't be right. Don't they have to hold on to her, or something, in case her...."  Akane paused shaking her head.  "In case her... owner, shows up?  How could someone take her that quickly?"

    Johnathon shook his head.  "That's the thing.  The person who took her claimed to be her owner.  Apparently this family has been looking for their black cat for several weeks now, and they apparently thought Kasumi was her."  He sighed.  "In fact, we can't really be sure that the black cat that was adopted was Kasumi.  It could really have been the one that family lost.  I'm assuming it was Kasumi, cause she was the only black cat brought in during the last week."  He shrugged helplessly.  "We'll have to go check for ourselves."

    Ranma protested.  "Wait a minute.  Why would Kasumi go with a bunch of strangers?  Wouldn't Kasumi wait for us?"

    Akane looked frustrated.  "I don't think Kasumi would have had a whole lot of choice in the matter, Ranma, assuming that it was Kasumi. Maybe she went with them so she could escape.  It's gotta be a lot easier to get away from some normal family's house than to escape this place."

    Ranma nodded.  "Yeah, that makes sense.  She's probably making a break for it right now."

    Johnathon looked grim.  "I just hope they're not planing to take her to the vet today...."  He shuddered.  "Lets move.  I've got a phone number.  There's no time to waste."

    Akane and Ranma followed Johnathon out to a pay phone.  Johnathon pulled out some change and dialed the number.  "No answer."  He reported after half a minute.  "They must not be home yet."  He frowned.  "I really hope they're not at a vet.  Since we don't know where they live, there's no way to guess which veterinarian's office they'd go to."

    Ranma looked puzzled.  "That's not too bad, right?  A check up won't hurt."

    Akane grabbed him by the arm and dragged him off as Johnathon winced and went back to the phone to dial again.  "Ranma you idiot."  She whispered fiercely.  "Johnathon's worried they might have Kasumi... fixed."

    Ranma blinked.  "Why?  Is something wrong with her?"

    Akane rolled her eyes and shook her head in disgust.  "No, fixed, you know, spayed...."  She winced.  "Uggh, poor Kasumi... we can't let that happen."

    Ranma looked worried and confused at the same time.  "What does that mean?  What's going to happen to Kasumi?"

    Akane chewed on her lip, then dragged Ranma a bit farther away from Johnathon.  She pulled his head down close and explained.  Ranma turned white, and Akane wasn't looking much better.

    The pig tailed youth's eyes were wide.  "You mean... they'd... cut....  Oh man.... An operation?  We've got to save her!"

    Akane nodded.  "You're right.  We've got to check every veterinarian in the area, and fast."

    Ranma threw his hand's wide.  "But how?  We don't know the area. And who could we tell that could help us?"

    Akane pointed at Johnathon.  "Let's ask."  Akane walked quickly over to the tall english teacher, who was once again hanging up the phone in disappointment.  "John-san, we should check every veterinarian we can. Do you know where they are?"

    Johnathon paused in thought.  "I think I know one or two."  He pointed.  "I believe there's one that way, let me think...."  After concentrating for a minute, he gave exact directions to the nearest Vet's  office.  "There's a whole bunch of them in the city.  We'd better split up so we can cover more ground."  He considered for a moment more.  "I'll stay here, and use the phone.  I can only think of one other place I know the location of...."

    Akane nodded.  "OK, tell me where to go, Ranma can check the first place, and you can kept trying on the phone."

    Johnathon nodded.  "That's best, the other Vet's office is about a mile and a half away...."

    He gave directions to Akane who nodded.  "I can make it in a few minutes.  You can call around and find out where the other places are, and give us directions when we get back."

    Ranma nodded.  "The first place is only half a mile, right?  I'll be back here in ten minutes, tops."

    He took off at a run, and Akane nodded.  "Wait here, I'll go as fast as I can."

    Johnathon sighed and went back to the phone booth, and started going through the yellow pages.  "I better call every place in town.  I hope get lucky, before it's too late...."  He started dialing.  "Actually, I hope I'm wasting my time.  If Kasumi never gets within sight of a vet today, I'd be a lot happier."

            ********************************

    Half a mile away, Ranma spotted a building with a large dog on its front sign.  "That must be the place."  He went in the front door and looked around.

    The waiting room was filled with people and their pets.  Four different groups of people, three with cats and one with a large dog. The dog was barking, and the cats were getting nervous.  So was Ranma.

    < Take it easy, there's just three cats.  I can handle three c-cats, can't I?>  Ranma licked his lips and went over to the front desk, checking to make sure none of the cat's were Kasumi.  "Excuse please." Ranma cleared his throat, trying to get the attention of the young woman behind the desk.

    She looked up at him, smiling faintly.  "Yes?  Can I help you?"

    Ranma nodded, having understood most of that.  "Yes, can help.  Have seen, black n-neko... cat?  Black cat?  Anyone see?"

    The woman hesitated.  "Um, perhaps you should try the animal shelter?  We don't get many strays here."

    Ranma blinked, trying to puzzle that out.  "Nani?  Have seen... black cat?  No?"

    The young veterinary assistant shook her head.  "Are you looking for your pet?  We really don't get many strays in here...."

    Just then a faint yowl came from somewhere inside the building. Ranma's head shot up and he started moving around the desk.

    The veterinary assistant stood up and put her hand out.  "Sir, excuse me, but you can't go back there."

    Ranma evaded her and ran toward the sound, going pulling open first one door, then the next as he searched for the animal in distress.  < That had better not be Kasumi, or....>  Finally finding the source of the faint sounds, Ranma flung open the door, and entered, only to find himself in a room filled with cages.  Cages filled with cats of all description.  At his entrance, they all turned to look at the new intruder, eyes gleaming in the low light.

    As they started to growl, and hiss, wanting to be let out, Ranma staggered backward, accidentally kicking the door closed behind him. His hand reached back blindly, for the doorknob.  It rested on a switch, and he snapped it down, hoping to turn the overhead lights on.

            ************************************

    Akane felt a chill of dread go down her spine as she jogged steadily down the street.  < Something's happened, I know it.  I hope Kasumi's all right.>

    Akane spotted the sign for the veterinarian's office and ran up to the front door.  Slowing her breathing to normal, she went quickly inside.

    Akane went right to the front desk.  "Excuse me, has anyone brought in a black cat?  There was a mix-up at the Animal Shelter, and I believe my cat was taken by mistake."  She smiled apologetically.  "I'm hoping to find her before anything happens to her."

    The middle aged man behind the desk smiled at the pretty young girl in front of him.  "No, no one's brought in a black cat today.  Do you know if they were coming here to have it fixed?"

    Akane did her best to completely suppress all outward sign of her distress.  "I'm... not sure.  I just checked the closest veterinary first."  Akane noticed she had the desk in a white knuckle grip and
forced herself to relax.

    The man behind the desk nodded.  "I see.  Well, perhaps they are taking your pet to a different clinic.  I'd be happy to give the local ones a call for you, see what I can find out."  He picked up the phone and was glad to see the intense young woman in the karate gi release her death grip on his desk.  He tried not to react outwardly to the inch deep imprints she had left in the metal, and started to dial quickly.

        *****************************

    A distinctive sound of metal on metal rasping in several dozen places at once came from behind the door.

     The young veterinary assistant paused outside, an irritated look on her face.  "Oh bother, now what do I do?  He must have hit the master switch."  She sighed.  "Now I have to get them all back in their cages before the doctor finds out...."  A loud meowing sound was heard from inside the room.

    "Sara, what's going on?"  An older man in a white lab coat came around the corner towards her, a tired look on his face.

    "Doctor, I..."  Sara pointed at the door.  "There was this young man, and he...."

    More meows were heard, from several sources.

    The slightly gray haired Veterinarian sighed.  "Another problem with the cages?  Did you get that master switch fixed yet?"

    Sara blinked.  "The master switch for the cages?  Um, no doctor, it works fine.  I checked it yesterday."

    The older man shook his head.  "I wanted you to take it out.  Ever since you put it in, we've had three separate accidents when all the cats got loose.  I know your studying electronics at school, but regular latches for the cages work much better.  I think it would be best if we were to go back to the old system."

    The meowing got louder, and suddenly the door crashed open.  A young man in red and black ran out and slammed the door shut behind him.

    Sara blinked at his white faced expression.  "Are you alright?"

    Ranma's eyes were wide, a series of meows came from the door behind him and he ran off like he was on fire, screaming in Japanese. "C-c-c-c-cc-aaat!!!"

        ***************************************

    Johnathon put the phone back in it's cradle.  "Nothing.  Well, no news is good news in this case.  I guess I'll try and see if the people that adopted Kasumi are home yet."

    Ranma, panting a bit, ran up as Johnathon began dialing.  "I didn't find Kasumi."  His eyes were a bit wild, but he was visibly calming down as he spoke.  "There were... a lot of cats there... but no Kasumi."  He wiped his brow.  "Whew."  He grinned shakily.  "I was cool as ice about it though.  No cat phobia here."

    Johnathon nodded dubiously.  "OK, if you say so."  He blinked as the phone stopped ringing and was picked up on the other end.  "Hello?  Yes, I'm calling about the cat you just picked up from the animal shelter.  A black cat, female, no collar.  I believe you may have gotten my cat by mistake."  Johnathon listened patiently to the phone.  "No, I'm quite sure.  She was picked up only two blocks from where I live, just today. I got to the shelter just after you did."  He listened further, sighing.  "I can prove it, I assure you.  She knows me, she'll come right to me."  Johnathon listened further.  "I would appreciate it, she's very important to me.  I'd be happy to compensate you for your time."  He nodded to himself.  "Yes, thank you.... Yes, I know where that is.... Yes, got it.  I'll be right over, thanks."

    Johnathon turned to see Akane jogging up, and Ranma looking expectantly at him.  "He gave me the address, thankfully.  It's a couple of miles away.  If we hurry we can be there in less than twenty minutes."

    Akane came to a halt next to them, panting hard.  "K-Kasumi?  Lets go!"

    Johnathon nodded and started walking.  "We pass my parents house on the way, so I can pick up my shoes.  I left them behind when I transformed earlier."

    Akane frowned.  "How did that happen, anyway?"

    Johnathon sighed.  "Sprinklers.  I'm surprised Ranma hasn't gotten hit yet."

    Ranma shrugged.  "Just lucky, I guess."

    Johnathon shook his head.  "At least Kasumi is safe, for now.  I really hope that it's her."

            **************************

    Half an hour earlier, in a van heading away from the Animal Shelter, Kasumi sighed wearily to herself.    < Am I ever going to get home?>  She had been picked out of the cages by a young boy, perhaps 9 or 10, that claimed she was his lost cat, Whiskers.  Kasumi had considered her options and decided that staying at the Shelter was not a good idea. She had meowed pleasantly at the boy and tried to look cute.

    Now, as the Animal Shelter receded in the distance, Kasumi began to feel guilty.  < I shouldn't have pretended to be this boy's pet.  That was wrong.  Being frightened is no excuse for lying.>  She sighed.  < At least I'm out of there.  I hope that the little boy won't be too sad when I leave.>  Kasumi twisted her neck to look up at the child, who was holding her gently and petting her.  < He seems like a nice child.  I hope he finds his real pet after I go.>

    The ride to the boy's house was interesting.  For a cat, the van the family drove around in looked as big as a house.  The boy had held her for the whole trip on his lap, stroking her, so she hadn't been able to see anything out the windows but the occasional tree.  The onlydisagreeable part was the flea collar they had bought for her.  Kasumi pawed at it resignedly, then left it alone.  When they arrived at their destination the boy carried her into the large house, holding her securely.

    When they walked into the house, the boy's mother looked down at her son's cat.  "Are you sure that's Whiskers?  I thought she was a bit smaller."

    The boy gripped Kasumi tightly and nodded with a fierce look.  "Yes I'm sure!  She must have grown when she was lost, but she knew me mom! She came when I called her!"  Kasumi winced at that, feeling even worse than before.

    The boy's mother nodded.  "Alright, I believe you.  We'd better give Whiskers a bath, though, first thing."

    The boy perked up.  "I can do it, mom!"

    She looked thoughtful.  "Alright, Timothy, just make sure she gets clean."

    Timothy nodded eagerly.  "I know."

    His mother followed him to the bathroom.  Make sure and check the water to make sure it's not too hot."

    Timothy nodded again.  "I can do it mom!"

    She hesitated, then nodded.  "I know you can."

    Just then the phone rang.  Timothy's mother turned to go get it, leaving her son with his pet.  When she got to the phone, her husband had already answered and was talking.  When he hung up she shook her head.  I thought the cat looked different.  It isn't Whiskers after all, is it, Bill?"  She sighed.  "Poor Timothy, he'll be crushed!"

    Bill shook his head.  "We don't know that for certain.  She doesn't have a collar, does she?  We'll see how she responds when this man shows up.  I might be a mistake.  Don't worry, Margaret."

    Unaware that her rescuers were on the way, Kasumi contemplated the filling tub with dread. < What am I going to do?  The bathroom door is closed, so I can't escape.  I really can't attack the boy, he doesn't deserve that.  I suppose that means my secret will be out.  At least I'll be able to go home.  Just as long as he remembers to take this collar off.>

    Kasumi felt Timothy's hands close around her.  "There girl, nice and warm."

    Kasumi was lifted over the tub.  < Oh no!  He forgot the collar!> As she descended toward the water, Kasumi froze.  < If I struggle, he'll drop me in... but I'm going in anyway.>

    Once, while on their trip back from China, Ryoga had related to Kasumi his experience with wearing a collar.  "Transforming to human with a collar on, hurt...."  He had said.  "But pretty soon I could breath again."

    Kasumi suddenly realized two very frightening facts.  First, a pigs neck, even a baby pig, was much thicker than a cat's, and Ryoga's neck was much, much more resilient that that of any normal human.  Then, even before she could really panic, she was dunked into the warm water.

        Kasumi felt herself grow and the sudden squeezing that started around her neck.  The collar was plastic, and easily expandable, but not to the degree it was suddenly forced to be.  Kasumi gasped futilely for breath and fought to keep from blacking out from the pain.

    Timothy jumped back as his cat suddenly exploded... into a naked woman.  The woman was clutching her throat and trying to breathe with no success.  She collapsed into the tub and slowly pulled herself over to the faucet.  Weakly she shut off the hot water and turned the cold on full, then lay underneath the stream.  Timothy's eyes were wide at the impossible sight of the naked woman choking to death in his bathtub. Then, as suddenly as she had appeared, she vanished, leaving a black cat under the stream of cold water coming from the faucet.

    Timothy hesitantly stepped forward and peered wide eyed at his pet. "Whiskers?"  Her collar was hanging loosely around her neck, definite proof that what he had just seen was real.  The water pouring down on her was beginning to threaten to drown the motionless animal.  Timothy shut off the water and hesitantly reached down to pick the cat up.  He felt the chill of the water as he put his hands around her and wrinkled his brow in sudden thought.  "Hey, I have a toy that does the same thing!"  He declared.  "It turns red in cold water, and blue in hot water.  I bet that's what happened to Whiskers!"  Timothy set Kasumi down on the floor and lightly prodded her.

    The little back cat moved slightly to Timothy's relief.  "She's alright.  Wow, I bet she's an alien, just like on Star Trek!"  Timothy's father was a big classic Trek fan, and Timothy could remember two separate episodes where a cat, specifically a black cat, turned into a girl.  Usually the girl had on clothing, but Timothy supposed things were different in real life then on T.V.

    Timothy mused to himself.  "I wonder what planet Whiskers is from?" He examined the stretched collar, then took it off.  "I'd better not kill off my alien."

    From outside his mother's voice called.  "Timothy, are you done washing the cat?"

    Timothy blinked, then thought quickly.  "Um, not yet, mom!"  Quickly he let the water already in the tub drain and started filling it again.

    His mother called from out in the hall.  "Alright, when you're done, could you come out?  I'd like to talk to you."

    Timothy called back.  "OK mom!"  Then went back to wondering what he was going to do.

    Margaret walked back into the kitchen.  "Sounds like he's having a little trouble washing the cat.  Well. if he gets frustrated with that, it'll probably be easier to accept letting it go."

    Kasumi regained consciousness with her return to human form. Breathing with slight difficulty, she sat up in the shallow water and focused on the young boy kneeling in front of her, his jaw agape. Kasumi shook her head to clear it, and realized gratefully she was no longer wearing the collar.  That she was wearing nothing at all she realized a second later, and started to blush.  The boy in front of her was young, but not quite that young.

    Kasumi covered herself with her arms and hands as well as she could.  "Hello..."  She began uncertainly in English.

    Timothy beamed, getting over his renewed shock at her voice.  "You can talk!  Are you really Whiskers?  You're really pretty!  Are you from outer space?"

    Kasumi blinked.  "Slow down please.  I can only answer one question at a time."  Timothy nodded and patiently waited for her to answer. Kasumi hesitated, then decided to try the truth.  "My name is Kasumi, and no, I'm not your cat.  I'm not from outer space either.  I'm a normal human, except I have a curse."

    Timothy wrinkled his brow.  "A curse?  Like the frog prince?"

    Kasumi nodded at the reference.  "Something like that, except there isn't a cure.  As you seem to have figured out, I become a cat when splashed with cold water, and return to my human form with hot water."

    Timothy nodded proudly.  "My dad says I'm smart.  I do real good in school too!"

    Kasumi smiled.  "I'm sure you do, Timothy, isn't it?"  The boy nodded.  Kasumi pointed at a towel rack.  "Timothy, dear, could you hand me a towel?"

    The young boy nodded again.  "OK!"  He grabbed a fluffy green towel and handed it to Kasumi, who wrapped it around herself and stepped out of the tub.

    Kasumi took a seat on the toilet and regarded Timothy carefully. "Timothy, I need your help."

    Timothy blinked.  "Really?"

    Kasumi nodded.  "Yes, really.  I'm lost and far from home.  My family, and my husband are looking for me, but I'm afraid they might not be able to find me."

    Timothy looked surprised.  "You have a husband?  Does he change into a cat like you?"

    Kasumi hesitated, then shook her head.  "No, not a cat like me." She looked wistfully at the young boy.  "I miss him, and my family.  I wish to go home.  Do you understand?"

    Timothy looked distressed.  "You're going to leave, aren't you?"

    Kasumi nodded.  "I have to.  I'm not really a pet.  I have a life, and people who love me."

    Timothy sighed.  "Then... you should go.  It's not right to make you  stay here."

    Kasumi smiled again, gently.  "Thank you, Timothy.  That is a very grownup attitude.  I'm sure your parents are proud of you."

    Timothy quirked his head to the left.  "My parents... I can't tell them about you, can I?"  It was more a statement then a question.

    Kasumi sighed, and shook her head.  "I don't think it would be a good idea.  If you feel you should, then I won't tell you not to, but I don't think they would react well.  Also, my curse is a secret.  It's not good for me if lots of people know about it.  I might be taken away and studied, or kept in a cage."

    Timothy nodded seriously.  "I'll keep your secret.  It wouldn't be right to keep you in a cage."  He sighed.  "I wish you could stay.  I'd take real good care of you, I promise!"

    Kasumi shook her head.  "I'm sorry, I can't.  I'm sure you would be a fine... guardian, but my family would miss me."

    Timothy thought about that, and nodded.  "I wouldn't want to be kept away from my family either, I guess."  Kasumi smiled at him again. "You're a very nice boy, I'm sure you're family would miss you too."

    Timothy shrugged.  "Yeah, I guess so.  K-Kasuma?"

    Kasumi gently corrected him.  "Kasumi."

    He nodded.  "Right, Kasumi, how are you going to get home?"

    Kasumi frowned slightly.  "I'm not really sure.  I don't know where I am.   Perhaps I could use your phone and call my family...."

    Timothy nodded automatically, then looked slightly dubious.  "Maybe you should wait until after my parents go to sleep.  Otherwise they'll figure out your secret."

    Kasumi nodded.  "You're right, Timothy.  That's a good idea."  < If they don't simply have me arrested for trespassing and indecent exposure... Oh my.>  Kasumi started to come up with a plan.  "OK, Timothy, how about this.  I will change back into a cat and...."  Kasumi paused as she heard footsteps outside.

    A voice came into the bathroom.  "Timothy!  What's going on in there?  Is everything alright?"

    Kasumi jumped up and quickly turned on the sink full blast.  She held a finger up to her lips and put her hand in her spray, forcing the water to spray her in the face.  An instant later, the towel dropped to the ground, just as the door opened.

    Timothy's mother, Margaret, looked into the bathroom.  Her son was on his hands and knees, holding a towel on the floor.  The towel moved as something under it shifted around.

    Margaret stepped into the bathroom, shutting off the sink.  "So you're all done?  Finish toweling Whis... the cat off and come with me. Your father and I have something we want to tell you."  Margaret spotted the distended collar as Timothy obediently toweled Kasumi dry.  "What did you do to this collar?  Timothy... oh never mind, it's not important."  She sighed.  "< Now is no time to be scolding him, it's going to be tough enough telling him about his cat without that.>

    Timothy picked up the little black cat and they walked out into the living room.  Timothy and his mother sat down together on the couch. Timothy's father was sitting in his usual recliner.

    Bill took a deep breath and looked his son in the eyes.  "Timothy, a man just called.  His name is Johnathon Tendo.  He says that we picked up his cat from the shelter by mistake."

    Timothy's eyes were wide.  He looked down at Kasumi and she excitedly nodded to him.  He smiled and petted her.

    Timothy looked up at his father.  "Is he coming here right away?"

    Bill blinked at his son's calm reaction to the news.  "Yes son, he'll be here soon.  It's probably a mistake on his part.  You were sure this was Whiskers, after all.  He will probably come and see that this isn't his cat after all."

    Margaret rolled her eyes at her husband.  < And what if you're wrong, dear?>

    Timothy shook his head slowly.  "I don't think this is Whispers any more, dad.  We should let Kasumi go back to her own family."  He sighed.  < I was hoping Kasumi would stay a little longer.>

    Margaret blinked and looked at her husband.  < Kasumi?  What kind of cat name is that?>

    He shrugged and nodded at his son.  That's the spirit, slugger. Kasumi, huh?  That's a funny name.  How'd you think of it?"

    Timothy blinked.  "Oh, I... um... heard it somewhere."

    His parents accepted that readily enough, and his father was quick to reassure him.  "Even if this is that man's cat, we'll get you another one, Timothy.  Maybe a kitten from a pet store this time."

    Timothy nodded, but he looked sad.  "It won't be the same... but, OK, dad."  He petted Kasumi gently.  "I'll take real good care of it."

    Before long, the doorbell rang, and the whole family came to the front door to see.  A tall dark haired man, wearing all black, stood in front of the door.  An asian girl, that Timothy thought slightly resembled Kasumi, wearing a Karate gi, and an asian boy with his hair in a pig tail stood slightly behind him.

    The taller man spoke.  "Hello, I'm Johnathon Tendo.  We spoke on the phone?"

    Timothy felt Kasumi struggling to get free, and released her. Kasumi dropped to the ground, and ran between Bill's legs, going directly to Johnathon.  He smiled widely and held out his arms, and Kasumi jumped nimbly up into them.

    Bill scratched his head.  "Well, I was going to ask for your ID... but I suppose that will do.  She's your cat alright."

    Johnathon grinned.  "More like I'm her person."  He started pulling out his wallet.  "I know there's a fee when you get a pet from the Animal Shelter."  He pulled out several bills.  "Will fifty cover it?"

    Bill blinked.  "Well that's a bit more than...."

    Johnathon interrupted.  "Good, I've put you all to a bit of trouble, so that makes us even."

    Bill nodded.  "Very well, although it's Timothy who should get the money."  The man turned and handed the money to his son.

    "Wow!  Fifty bucks!"  Timothy enthused with a grin.

    Bill nodded.  "It's yours, son.  Now, does that make you feel better about losing your cat?"

    Timothy nodded.  "Yeah, dad.  Kasumi was worth more than fifty bucks, but she wasn't mine, anyway."

    The parents, looking to see their son's reaction, missed the shocked looks on Johnathon, Ranma and Akane's faces.  They managed to school their expressions (except for Ranma) by the time Bill and Margaret turned around.

    Johnathon tucked Kasumi against his chest and shook Bill's hand. "Thank you sir.  I really have to be going, but thank you for taking care of her for me."

    Bill nodded.  "Good day."

    Johnathon smiled.  "To you too.  Have a good day."  He looked down at Timothy.  "Thank you too, thank you very much."

    Johnathon, Ranma and Akane turned to go, and Kasumi climbed up on Johnathon's shoulder so she could look back at Timothy.  The young boy waved, and Kasumi waved back, causing his parents to blink in confusion.

    Johnathon noticed his wife's action and whispered to her as they turned the corner.  "Kasumi-chan, cats don't wave."

    Kasumi sighed and Akane giggled, petting her sister's head.  "We're really glad to have you back, Kasumi."  Kasumi rubbed her head into Akane's hand, purring.

    As the house got out of sight, Johnathon glanced over at his wife. "That little boy knows your name.  He knows you transform?"  Kasumi nodded.  Johnathon looked thoughtful.  "Does anyone else?"  Kasumi shook her head in a negative.  Johnathon nodded again smiling.  "Seemed like a nice kid."  Kasumi nodded again.  Johnathon stoked her head.  "I really am glad to have you back.  Lets go back to my parent's house before they start to worry."

    The group got some strange looks as they headed back.  The tall man in black with a black cat draped comfortably over his shoulder, the short Asian girl in a yellow gi, red belt and no shoes, and the medium sized Asian boy in a red Chinese shirt and pants tied off at the ankles.  Still, there were much stranger things to see in California, although not on that particular street.  Before long the foursome reached the Dwire's home.

    Johnathon walked up to the front door.  "Ranma, Akane, you two go in first and distract my folks for a few seconds.  I'll take Kasumi to the bathroom and get her changed back."

    The two teenagers nodded and Johnathon opened the door.  Ranma and Akane walked in and turned toward the kitchen, spotting Johnathon's parents.

    Clara looked over and smiled.  "Oh, you're done with your walk?  Are Johnathon and Kasumi back yet?"

    Ranma nodded, moving past her into the kitchen so Clara had to turn around to face him.  "They behind us, follow."

    Akane smirked at Ranma's lousy English.  "They'll be here soon.  May we have something to drink?  It is a bit hot outside."

    Clara nodded, heading into the kitchen and out of sight of the front door.  "Certainly, what would you like?"

    Johnathon peeked around the corner, and saw Akane's back to him, and his father reading in his chair facing away from him as well, and no one else.  He quickly slipped down the hall to the bathroom.  Closing the door behind him he gently set Kasumi on the floor and started running the tub.  Johnathon waited for the water to get warm, then nodded to Kasumi when it was.  Kasumi jumped into the tub, explosively transforming back to human.  Johnathon blinked when he saw the purpling welt around her neck.

    He frowned angrily and bent forward to get a closer look.  "When did that happen?"  Johnathon hissed quietly in Japanese.

    Kasumi winced a bit as she felt her neck.  "It was from the collar I was wearing when the little boy, Timothy, put me in the tub."  Kasumi also kept her voice down, speaking quietly in the same language.  "For a few moments I thought I was going to choke to death, but I managed to turn on the cold water before I lost consciousness."  She sighed softly.  "That's how Timothy-chan discovered my secret."

    Johnathon frowned sympathetically.  "That sounds awful.  I'm glad you're alright."

    Kasumi smiled softly.  "Timothy was very nice.  He took off that horrible collar before changing me back to human again.  We had a little talk, and he promised to keep my secret and help me get home."  Kasumi beamed at her husband.  "Then of course, you showed up."

    Johnathon sighed and ran a finger under Kasumi's chin gently.  "I wish I had been faster."

    Kasumi took his hand and squeezed it.  "It's alright.  No real harm has been done."  She released his hand and touched her neck gingerly again.  "Is it very visible?"

    Johnathon nodded.  "I'm afraid so."

    Kasumi sighed.  "Oh well.  Johnathon, could you get me my blue dress?  The one with the high neck?"

    Johnathon nodded.  "Sure... while I'm at it, where did you lose yourother clothes?  Where did you get wet?"

    Kasumi blinked.  "I was on the backyard porch when the sprinklers came on.  Isn't my dress out there?"

    Johnathon shook his head.  "I looked all over the back yard.  I wonder what happened to it?"

    Kasumi shook her head in confusion.  "I have no idea."  She smiled gently.  "I'm sure it will turn up."

*****************************************

    Dale sniffed loudly from inside his and Chip's dog house in the backyard.  He turned around in circles a few times and settled down on his nice smelling, soft new blanket, and closed his eyes contentedly.

                End: A Different Viewpoint: American Vacation, pt 3

 

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